How to Save Basil Herb From Dying (Complete Guide)

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How to Save Basil Herb From Dying

How do you save basil herbs from dying? There is no decided method on how to keep basil thriving no matter how old it gets, but there are ways you can save basil from dying. Basil is a popular herb that adds a delicious flavor and aroma to many dishes. However, it can be difficult to keep the plant healthy, especially if you’re unfamiliar with its care requirements.

Basil plant is not complicated to grow or care for as you have to understand its requirements. Most gardeners start growing Basil in pots indoors from seed; this enables them to get a head start on the growing season. Also, basil is pretty versatile; it will grow in various conditions.

Growing basil requires an easy process, and getting it right might be one of the ways you can save your basil herb from dying after some time. Basil thrives in the full morning sun and warm temperatures however, this does not stop your basil plant from getting stressed but know that this might not be anything you did.

The key to saving basil herb from dying is to spot it early. If your plant is drooping or wilting, then it does mean the soil or water schedule has changed, and your basil is suffering from this. But there are other reasons basil herbs can die. Stick around to learn how herbs from dying.

Growing Requirements For Basil Herb

Basil herb is easy to grow, but it can also be a finicky plant to care for. Basil is an annual plant hence it grows quickly, which is also why it’s one of the most approachable starter herbs for beginners.

The easiest way to grow basil will be to sow it directly into the garden and do this when the frost spring is gone or you can start it indoors.

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Basil plants above
Basil plants above

Growing basil is a very easy process although it does seem like an intimidating plant if you do provide all its growing needs, it should complete all its natural life cycles without any issues. Before harvesting basil, here are helpful basics that can help you grow healthy basil leaves.

  • Add a few extras to the seed you are planting, this should increase your odds of successful germination, or you can select the strongest plant to grow.
  • Gently mist the basil after planting; it should give the seed good contact with the soil.
  • Space basil, according to the variety label instructions, is usually 12 to 18 inches apart.
  • Basil prefers moist soil that is not too wet and not too dry.
  • This herb loves warm weather, but the hot midday sun might be too harsh. So, plant in a place that receives 6 to 8 hours of sunlight in the morning but add light shade over it at noon.
  • Basil seedlings should be moved outdoors to harden them gradually.
  • When it starts to germinate, place it in a location where the temperature is approximately 70 degrees.
  • Water regularly and fertilizer lightly.
  • To encourage your basil leaves to grow fuller, pinch back leaves from the tips of your basil as soon as it has two sets of large true leaves.

6 Reasons Why Your Basil Is Dying and How to Save It

Basil is one of the herbs that are easy to care for, but at the same time, it can be quite fussy, especially during the hot summer months. Lots of things can go wrong with basil when it’s not cared for regularly, it can start to wilt, bolt, drop, turn brown and eventually start drying out quickly.

Also, the basil plant needs to be maintained at 6 inches to encourage more leaves to grow and prevent it from dropping.

Basil dying is a common problem and there are some reasons this might be happening. Below are some of the common reasons your basil herb might be dying.

Leaves of green basil plant in greenhouse.
Image: Envato Market

1. Watering Problem

Basil is a plant that requires water but not too much of it. The key to reviving basil plants dying from overwatering is to place them in an area of the morning sun, followed by afternoon shade then shelter them from excessive winds and frost. Basil soil should be moist and not too dry or overwatered or it will start dropping.

Signs you are under-watering your basil is that the leaves will turn yellow and then before wilting and eventually starting to fall over.

How to save it: Basil plants do not like sitting in wet soil or dry soil either. Stick your finger in the soil and if it’s dry an inch, it’s time to water but if it’s dying from being overwatered, try adding a drainage layer to remove excess water and let the soil dry before watering.

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2. It is Affected by Pests Or Diseases

Diseases such as downy dew, root rot, leaf spot, and fusarium wilt can cause basil leaves to die.

Downy dew specifically is one of the common diseases that your basil herb is susceptible to, it tends to thrive in humid conditions, and signs of this are that your basil leaves will have gray-purple fuzzy growth on the underside, will start to wilt and fall off in no time. Spider mites and aphids are also two common pests that attack basil plants.

How to save it: Spraying basil with water, neem oil, or insecticide should help eliminate pest infestation. You can also get rid of fusarium or other diseases by removing the affected area, except when the soil is infected, then you have to get rid of the whole basil plants.

3. Stressed From Transplanting

Another reason you can have a dying basil plant is transplanting shock. If you have recently moved your basil plant from one location to another or transplanted it outdoors, then it is likely that the plant is being stressed, and this will cause it to wilt.

How to save it: You have to give the herb time to adjust to its new location and ensure the new pot it’s being transplanted to is slightly larger than the previous one.

4. Change in Temperature/Humidity

Basil herbs originated from Central Africa and the tropics of Southeast Asia so it is a tropical plant hence it will not tolerate a sudden drop in temperature or change in humidity.

This herb will die when temperatures drop below 50 degrees F and 10 degrees C. If your basil leaves start to turn dark and die, it can be because the temperature is too hot or it has dropped.

How to save it: To fix the issue of a drop in temperature, have your basil plant placed in a stable location, and it’s dying from frost, you should have it placed indoors. Also, ensure the soil stays moist consistently, and for humidity issues, save it by placing it in a drier location.

5. Lack of Nutrients

Lack of nutrients is another common reason basil herb might be dying. Basil plant can start to turn dark, and brown and then die if it does not get enough phosphorous. However, note that this is a very rare reason for basil herb to die but if the poor or overused potting mix is used then consider it a possibility.

How to save it: To get the phosphorus your basil plant lacks into it, you can use a rock phosphate fertilizer or bone meal feed. Avoid the use of bone meal indoors due to its strong smell.

6. Dying Due to Flowering

It has also been discovered that the basil herb can start to die after it completes its natural life cycle and is about to go back to seeds. When a basil plant produces flowers instead of leaves, it will start to wilt off and die.

How to save it: To save your basil leaves and keep them flowering, you have to pinch the tips of the basil plant, this will encourage it to grow more leaves. The flowers need to be cut off to get the basil, produce more leaves, and ensure to prune regularly.

Woman picking leaves from potted basil bush, home spicy herbal garden
Image: Envato Elements

How to Revive A Dying Basil Herb

We have discussed common reasons basil herbs can die and ways to save it above. However, some basic steps can be taken to revive the basil herb, especially when you can’t figure out why it’s dying.

Do note that prevention is the primary strategy you need to go for if you will keep your basil herb producing for a very long time.

  • Give your basil plant a warm soak; this will encourage the root of the basil to produce leaves and keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Water once a week if your plant is in a good-sized pot but adjust that to 1 to 3 days during summer. Test the soil with your finger to know when it needs water and when it doesn’t.
  • The best way to revive dying basil is not to abandon it; treat it like a flower bouquet, check the water every couple of days, and ensure no leaves are below the waterline.
  • Have basil placed in the morning sun while you provide shade for it at noon
  • Minimize or stop the use of fertilizer till your plant recovers
  • Shelter dying basil from frost and heavy wind prune away any brown leaves and flowers.

The most common reason why basil herbs are dying is overwatering or underwatering.


Basil plants are quite strict about their need for moist soil. Another way to prevent the basil from dying is to place it in 6 hours of morning sun and then provide shade for it during the afternoon sun.

To sum it up, dying basil can be saved by providing it with enough light, well-drained soil, and the right amount of water. Give your basil plant the right attention and care, it should be looking perky in no time.

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